Dirk Bogarde stars as lawyer Mel Farr, who begins a personal crusade when 'Boy' Barrett (Peter McEnery) hangs himself due to blackmail. The blackmail circle extends beyond Boy however- even Mel may be involved. All of these people have committed a crime- but what is it? Homosexuality of course, which became legalised at the end of the sixties and so was at this time a prisonable offence as well as a social taboo. Though Mel never consummated his relationship with Boy he's explicitly attracted to him.
This isn't the first film to deal with homosexuality but it was the first English language film to use the term. If you bear in mind the context of the film, it still packs a punch today daring to debate both the question behind making homosexuality legal or not and the moral right of people to love whoever they want. Although Brokeback Mountain came out over 45 years later, this has a far more relevant and daring approach. There's no pretty women trying to cover up characters being gay and Laura (Sylvia Sims), Dirk's wife, tentatively confronts the matter head-on and is even supportive. Actually all the characters in the film are pretty decent about it- apart from the blackmailers.
Sims took a part that many actresses turned down and she creates a believable tension between the wife's jealousy and the wife's love for the husband. Bogarde is just brilliant as the lawyer. Far from being stereotypically gay, he's charming, sophisticated and gains the respect of everyone he talks to.
It's ironic that this film does more for gay rights than Brokeback Mountain, considering its age. Though it's part of the sixties angry-young-man genre, it still stands up well today. Plus for the thea there's some shots of the West End, advertising new musicals Flower Drum Song and Oliver!